We crowd round the winner. 'Any advice for bald people out there?'
DICKIE FANTASTIC on the schmooze
Saturday 13 April 1996
"Think of them as like the Wright brothers," says hair-growing svengali Andy Bryant. "The Wright brothers only flew for 59 seconds. But they showed that it could be done."
"But they're still bald," I say.
"No they're not," says Andy. "Look."
He shows me a "before" photograph of James Oldham. He looks semi-bald. Then he points to a semi-bald man in the crowd.
"That's James now," he says.
"Still semi-bald," I mutter.
"Half a centimetre on average!" says James. "That's how much his hair has grown back. The tip of the nose to the hairline measurement has remained a constant 14.5cm, but the width of the bald crown has reduced from 8.5cm to 6cm. And that's something."
And I guess it is, when they said it couldn't be done. But four years for half a centimetre, when a trip to the wig shop takes mere minutes, if they're so hair self-absorbed... Who can understand people sometimes? But today, the nation's media are at least trying to understand. I rather thought I'd be the only journalist here, and would consequently be compelled to make awkward small-talk with deluded bald men for hours. But the room is packed. There are hundreds of us here.
And when the judging actually starts, and the contestants sit in a chair while four besuited experts crowd around each bald pate and run their fingers through the remaining hair, testing for shine, viscosity, density, and the like, and 200 journalists are giggling like children underneath their hands; well - I can't think of anyone in the world I'd like to be less than a grand-finalist in the Hair Grower of the Year contest. The assertively unstressed competitors suddenly start to appear decidedly tense, and the terrible irony could be that, after four years of hanging upside-down and eating the right sorts of vegetables, all that good work could be undone by one high-profile media day at the Savoy, followed by an awful, ignoble evening of being the funny story at the end of the news.
The winner turns out to be James Oldham, and we crowd around and pretend to be genuinely excited.
"How do you feel?"
"Any advice for bald people out there?"
"I did it, and so can you."
"What's the secret of your success?"
"No stress, hanging upside-down, drinking 1 1/2 litres of water, and eating the right sorts of vegetables."
"Any message for people with wigs?"
"I did it and so can you."
And so on.
Review: Of Mice and Men
By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work
Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar
What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?
Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings
The actor has confessed to his own insecurities
Allotments are the focus of a new reality show
Arts & Ents blogs
Game of Thrones writer George RR Martin releases extract from new book
King Charles III London Underground theatre poster pixelated amid fears it might cause offence
The best movies on Netflix: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Grace Dent on TV: Game of Thrones has jumped the shark
Kingdom Tower: Construction of 1km high new world’s tallest building to begin next week in Saudi Arabia
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 1 Easter egg hunt horror as mother finds dead body under deck of house
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 Unbeliebable: The White House offer 'no comment' to anti-Justin Bieber petition
- 4 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 5 How We Met: Alison Moyet & Emma Kennedy: 'I knew we'd be friends because she was happy to make a prat of herself'